A new emoji with a clear anti-LGBT message has sparked outrage.
It has been used by queer people to criticise or make fun of intolerant people, while also being included in anti-LGBT messages of hate on the platform.
Did Apple make an anti-LGBT emoji?
The emoji does not appear to have been made by Apple or the Unicode Consortium, which creates emojis.
Instead, the arresting image seems to be a glitch in the software.
A Twitter user called Mitchell told Out Magazine on February 19 that he discovered the apparent flaw a month ago.
How gay twitter became obsessed with this: a thread ✨
— mitchell (Discovered 🏳️🌈⃠) (@mioog) February 19, 2019
He found the mistake by combining the blocks of Unicode which make up the Pride flag with the Unicode which creates a circle with a slash through it.
“It shouldn’t be possible,” said Mitchell, who is gay.
“I’ve been embracing it, but it’s also dangerous for people to use it hatefully.”
— Mitchell, who discovered the anti-LGBT emoji
He added that he was pleased to see queer people using the emoji ironically or for humorous purposes, but was worried about the potential harm it could do in the wrong hands.
“I’ve been embracing it, but it’s also dangerous for people to use it hatefully,” he explained.
Twitter users lash out at Apple as anti-LGBT emoji goes viral
Many people have registered their displeasure with a clearly anti-LGBT emoji being used on Twitter.
One person tweeted: “🏳️🌈⃠ Why 🏳️🌈⃠ does 🏳️🌈⃠ this 🏳️🌈⃠ exist 🏳️🌈⃠.”
Another said: “Nobody: Apple: Y’all mind if I hit that 🏳️🌈⃠ 🏳️🌈⃠ 🏳️🌈⃠ 🏳️🌈⃠ 🏳️🌈⃠ 🏳️🌈⃠.”
A different user said the emoji was equivalent to Apple creating a blackface emoji, writing: “🏳️🌈⃠ iphone emoti. U still gonna buy a iphone 😂 When will we get black face emoti.”
And one tweeter commented: “🏳️🌈⃠. This new emoji is the anti-pride emoji. Sickening.”
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Discovery of anti-LGBT emoji comes after revelation of new gender neutral emojis on Apple phones
Last month, the Unicode Consortium revealed that gender-inclusive emojis for couples who both don’t define as male or female will be coming to Apple and Android phones in 2019.
The emojis for non-binary partners will be available in 16 different combinations of skin tone and are reportedly set to be rolled out by October this year.
They are listed as “people holding hands,” and will be seen in the family category with the rest of the 230 new emojis, which were revealed on February 5.
The move comes after gender neutral emojis were unveiled in 2017.
The latest rollout of emojis also included various images representing disabled people, such as blind people using white canes, people in wheelchairs and guide dogs.
However, though the new white heart emoji will please anyone who likes using emojis to represent the transgender flag, it won’t satisfy people who have long called for a transgender flag emoji.
Despite users now being able to choose from thousands of emojis, the trans flag has never been officially approved for creation.
In the Unicode Consortium’s sixth major emoji update since 2014, it still wasn’t present. The bisexual, lesbian, pansexual and asexual flags were also left out.
The new emojis included a sloth, skunk, mechanical arm, ice cube, yo-yo and banjo, as well as a drop of blood—but still no LGBT+ flag emojis apart from the Pride flag.